Selected Freedom of Speech

Recently there was a lengthy article in the Progress entitled: “Atheist student groups flower on college campuses.” It was a very informative and interesting article written by an Associated Press writer. Perhaps the majority of people living in the “Bible Belt” don’t necessarily agree with what the atheists are doing; nevertheless it was an excellent example of the wonderful freedom of speech provided by the first amendment to our constitution. Every religion should be allowed to speak out about their belief system and likewise every religion should have the freedom to express their opinions about other religions. In this case atheism really can’t be considered to be a religion because their belief system centers on the premise that there is no God or deities. It has been stated that perhaps the world would be a safer place if atheism could proselytize all of Islam.

During the same week there appeared a column in the Tulsa World entitled: “Islamists push treaty to prohibit blasphemy.” This column was likewise sponsored by the Associated Press. The column stated in essence that the proposed resolution would require persons to limit their speech if “it risks seriously offending religious believers.” The column stated this proposal will be resisted by the West which includes the United States. The column further stated “the campaign risks reigniting tensions between Muslims and the West that President Barack Obama has pledged to heal…”

What the column didn’t mention is that Mr. Obama and his administration are co-sponsoring such UN resolutions that would in fact make it a hate crime to make statements about Islam that might offend them, even if the statements are true! Are we to surmise that the definition of free speech applies only to selected groups? And will political correctness once again trump the truth?

Well we’ve mentioned atheists and Muslims relative to free speech, how about examining what is happening on the Christian front on this subject. Shortly after the church was born on the day of Pentecost Peter and John healed a 40 year old man who had been lame from birth. This miracle was witnessed by many.

“And all the people saw him walking and praising God.” Acts 4:9

However, not everyone celebrated this grand event. The rulers and elders of Israel tried to keep the news of the healing quiet and ordered Peter and John to keep silent about the matter.

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, ‘What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.’” Acts 4:13-17

But we all know Peter!

“So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.’”

Acts 4:18-20

The high priest tried every kind of coercion to silence them and thereby suppress the truth. He asked Peter and John again to remain silent after they continued to preach and teach about observed events.

“Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine…”
Acts 5:28

“But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’”
Acts 5:29

Based on the above Biblical passages a group of Christians consisting of Orthodox, Catholics, and Evangelicals have joined together and have very recently drafted what is called the “Manhattan Declaration.” This document is just one quarter of one percent as long as the recently proposed health care bill but could have a much more profound affect on America than “health care reform.” The major focus is to follow the example of Martin Luther King, Jr. who was willing to go to jail rather than comply with civil laws that contradicted Biblical teachings. The Manhattan Declaration addresses three major issues where the positions held by our governmental leaders are in direct conflict with Biblical teachings.

• Sanctity of life beginning with the unborn up to and including the elderly
• The sanctity of marriage which defines marriage as being between one man and one woman
• Religious liberty which includes the freedom of speech

The Manhattan Declaration closes with some very profound words. The drafters stated: “We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.” The entire document can be accessed and read on line.

It will be very interesting to see which groups, i.e. atheists, Islamists, or Christians will be targeted for or protected from hate crimes relative to free speech. We’ll see if “free speech” applies to all groups or only to selected groups in the pursuit of political correctness.

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